Autumn 2022 Himalayan Season: Another Manaslu Avalanche, One Death

Only days after a deadly avalanche between Camps 3 and 4 on Manaslu, this Sunday morning, October 2, 2022, Manaslu Base Camp was hit by a new release destroying six camps and 30 tents but no lives. However, one Sherpa died in a different avalanche while descending from Camp 2 to Camp 1. That makes two deaths taken by avalanches this season. Historically, avalanches occur near Manaslu base camp but rarely hit it. Obviously, Manaslu is so loaded that being anywhere on the mountain is a gamble with lives.

Autumn 2022 Himalayan Season: Manaslu Avalanche – Bodies Found

Manaslu Camp 1

It’s a grim time on Manaslu with bodies being found related and unrelated to the avalanche earlier this week. Some teams have wisely ended their expeditions while others press on. Time will tell if there will more another release given the ongoing snows. Manaslu has experienced heavy snowfall this season. One of the Sherpas managing the route, Yukta Gurung, told The Kathmandu Post the avalanche was triggered by continuous snowfall. “It had snowed unceasingly for 15 days. The area was covered in at least five to six feet of snow; the piled-up snow ultimately gave way triggering the avalanche.”

Autumn 2022 Himalayan Season: Manaslu Avalanche – Injuries and One Death

Manalsu between C4 and C3 in 2013 by Alan Arnette

A major avalanche similar to 2012 occurred high on Manalsu, between Camp 3 and 4, while several teams were climbing higher to be in position for summit bids around September 27 and 28. It appears that Sherpas ferrying loads to Camp 4 took the worst of the avalanche. Poor weather is hampering rescue efforts.

Let me warn readers from the outset that when these incidents occur, the first news is almost always incorrect or at least incomplete. The details will become clear as teams return to camps and communications are established. According to my sources on the mountain, it is unclear if the season will continue. It’s too early to make that decision.

The Himalayan Times reports that “As many as 12 climbers were injured … Sherpa climbers from Seven Summit Treks, Satori Adventure, Imagine Nepal Treks, Elite Expedition, and 8K Expeditions are among others were injured. Gorkha Police said the deceased has been identified as Anup Rai.”

The Kathmandu Post reported that Icefall doctor Yukta Gurung, who is at the base camp, said that the avalanche was triggered by continuous snowfall. “It had snowed unceasingly for 15 days. The area was covered in at least five to six feet of snow; the piled-up snow ultimately gave way triggering the avalanche.”

Seven Summits Treks reported in with injuries, “We witnessed an avalanche this afternoon between C3-C4 while team were reopening the trail to C4 in Manaslu. More than 13 climbers (including Sherpas) were swept along with the avalanche. 4 Sherpas, including 2 from our team need urgent rescue from higher camp, however rest of all have minor injuries. ”

Slowly teams are checking in. At the time of this post, around 10:00 PM Monday, September 26, Nepal time, we know that Furtunebach, Climbing the Seven Summits, Elite Expeditions, Imagine Nepal, Madison Mountaineering, Pioneer Adventure, and Wild Yak have all checked in with their teams safe.

Autumn 2022 Himalayan Season: Manaslu Summits!

Manaslu Camp 1

While most teams were waiting in base camp for the recent snowfall to settle, a few pushed on, breaking trail and either pulling the fixed ropes out or putting in new ones to reach the true summit of Manaslu. There is no word on the route was used but Kristin Harila, Pasdawa Sherpa, Dawa Ongchu Sherpa, with 8k Expeditions, were one of the first to summit. They will continue their quest to get all 14 8000ers in six months. Now they move to Cho Oyu from the Nepal side and hopefully Shishapangma if the Chinese will approve their permit application.

Other summits were reported by Vijay Kumar Appasab Patil (India) with Phurba Dorchi Sherpa, Mingma Thinduk Sherpa, and Chinese climber Hu Tao with Pioneer Treks.

Sanu Sherpa summited the true top after his first two summits were apparently only to the fore summit. He had

Autumn 2022 Himalayan Season: Summit Bids Nearing

Manaslu 2013 view

Progress continues on Manalsu, with many teams having reached Camp 2 at 21,000 feet and some to Camp 3 around 22,300 feet during their acclimatization rotation. Up to three feet of fresh snow recently fell on the upper mountain. Summit bids are expected to begin on Thursday, September 22.

The Nepal government has issued 404 permits to foreigners. Combining this with a 1:1.2 support ratio, there are around 1,000 people currently attempting Manaslu. One of the reasons Manaslu is so popular these days is that China closed Cho Oyu in the last few years due to COVID. These two 8000ers are considered the best ones for beginner climbers of the highest peaks. Of course, now that Manaslu’s true summit has come into focus, those who really value a summit may be disappointed.

There is little doubt that 2022 will be a record summit year on Manaslu, but only if you take the previous summit claims to include the fore summit. In 2019 there were 363 “summits,” 2018 had 354, and 2017 saw 329. Before these years, summits rarely reached the 100 level. Of course, if you count only the true summit, these numbers go from a handful to zero. It will be interesting to see how many people claim they reached the true summit in 2022.

Autumn 2022 Himalayan Season: Mass on Manaslu – Rope to True Summit

2013 Manaslu "summit." Photo by Alan Arnette

The fixed ropes are now to the true summit of Manaslu. As expected, Manaslu is overrun with clients and a greater number of support climbers. Thus far, the Nepal government has issued 394 permits to foreigners, so considering a 1:1.5 support ratio, that puts close to 600 people on the peak, with more to come.

In an interesting twist, a few climbers who climbed all fourteen of the 8000ers are returning to Manaslu to correct the “sins” of the past by tagging the true summit. I don’t expect all of the people on Manaslu to attempt the true summit unless the conditions are extremely safe, or for example, a boot path is created that allows beginner 8000er climbers to simply follow a trail. Most will be content to tag the fore summit and move on to other 8000ers next spring.

Autumn 2022 Himalayan Season: Manaslu and More!

Repost due to error in first post. My apologies

The autumn climbing season is underway, with most of the attention on Nepal’s Manaslu, oft acknowledged as one of the more “attainable” 8000ers. However, many things changed last year when one team showed an alternate route to the true summit, thus turning scores of climber’s previous claims on their heels, including my own.

With an expected record crowd on Manalsu, I hope we don’t see a repeat of this spring’s and summer’s poor practices with respect to trash, excessive support, and excessive supplemental oxygen on Manaslu. However, with so much demand for these 8000ers, nothing surprises me anymore.

For many, the allure of the 8000ers is gone, as interest in following masses of inexperienced people led by massive support leaves a sour taste for many avid climbing fans. In many ways, the 8000ers have become like Kilimanjaro, Denali, Aconcagua, or the rest of the Seven Summits, attracting too many people seduced by summit promises, low prices, and rock-star style leaders. I fear we are only one unexpected situation be it weather, ques or competence from a major tragedy on the big peaks. That said, if you have the skills and experience plus choose the right team, route, and season, climbing these beasts will change your life for the better.